AP Biology class blog for discussing current research in Biology

Why We Love Music

We have all experienced it; hearing a new song that you really like, and rushing to your preferred digital music distributor to buy it. Researchers at Science Magazine have recently determined why we have this feeling. Hearing a new song activates a part of the brain called the Nucleus Accumbens. This part of the brain is used to make predictions, which it tries to do with a new song as well. When it correctly predicts where the song will go, it stimulate the feeling of pleasure, given that it is located within the reward center of the brain. However, the nucleus accumbens doesn’t work alone. It has been found that it works in conjunction with three other parts of the brain: one looks for patterns, another compares the music to sounds previously heard and the last checks for emotional ties. According to Robert Zatorre of the Montreal Neurological Institute at McGill University, these four regions of the brain “work overtime” when listening to a new song. This development has been taken further, and now researchers believe that they can correctly predict what a person is willing to spend on a new song judging by the amount of activity that their nucleus accumbens displays. Aniruddh Patel of Tufts University commented that a music store such as Google Music and iTunes was “a very clever idea” that plays to “an old theory in music cognition”. Some researchers believe that these discoveries will lead to breakthroughs in speech and sound recognition in the future.

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  1. celine2

    It is very interesting to try answering the question of why we love music in a biological way. I’ve never considered this question, even though I’ve always enjoyed music and it is such a prominent force in our everyday lives. In another article, another research in 2001 at McGill College found that by listening to music, the area of brain triggered is the same part that other euphoric stimuli such as food, sex, and drugs activate as well. It’s interesting to see the comparison between the two articles.

  2. karbonkim

    This is a really cool post! I would never have thought about the neurological reasons why I would like one song over another. In relation to the last line of your post, I read a article about the relationship between emotions and music, specifically addressing why we like sad or happy music, and if the perceived emotions are the same as the listener feels. Interestingly, it said we usually don’t feel the emotions that are perceived so the experience is almost as if having “vicarious emotions.” Here is the link:

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